Advent Guide Videos
Week 4: Peace
Advent 2016 • December 18, 2016 • Greg Gibson
4. Peace - Dec. 18 - Psalm 2: King over the nations “To speak grandly of the example of Jesus’ love, or even of his identification with human suffering, is entirely meaningless unless there is some end in view. We must never lose sight of the fact that that end is our salvation – our pardon, our reconciliation to God, our restoration to a proper relationship with both God and other human beings, and ultimately our transformation when Christ comes again.” – D. A. Carson (1) The fourth Sunday of Advent is about Peace, and how this comes through Christ’s justice. The candle lit on this Sunday is sometimes called “the Bethlehem Candle.” Bethlehem was sometimes called “the city of David,” because that is where King David was born. Likewise the prophets said that this was where the Christ child was to be born. In Psalm 2, we see this Peace at work through the reign of the Lord’s anointed king over all the nations. As Christians living at a future point in time, we know that Jesus Christ was the anointed king of which the psalmists spoke, and his reign will last forever. With this in mind, the Peace candle is lit to remind us of how God brings everlasting peace to this broken world, even as we look ahead to its full restoration with Christ’s return. Suggested Prayer: Lord, we celebrate the peace you have given to believers, but we also look forward to the day that this everlasting peace is truly realized throughout the world. We thank you for the gift of peace found in Jesus. We pray that this substantial peace – like the hope, love, and joy – would be felt in our lives, despite what we might be going through and despite the reality of sin. We pray for complete reconciliation in all conflicts that we have a part in, whether we are offended or we are the ones who offend. We pray this in Jesus’ name, and for your glory. Amen. 1. Write a “thank you” note to a member of the police, fire department, EMS, or branch of the military. These are people who need a lot of encouragement and do not see a lot of “peace” in their jobs. 2. Write down the names of two people you have a conflict with. Maybe they’ve hurt you, or maybe you have hurt them. Consider contacting them to offer or ask for forgiveness and peace. 1 D. A. Carson, How Long O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1990), 192.
Week 2: Love
December 4, 2016 • Greg Gibson
“Love brought you from heaven to earth, from earth to the cross, from the cross to the grave. Love caused you to be weary, hungry, tempted, scorned, scourged, buffeted, spat upon, crucified, and pierced. Love led you to bow your head in death ... This love is not intermittent, cold, changeable; it does not cease or abate for all my enmity.” – A Puritan Prayer¹ The second Sunday of Advent is about God’s Love and the comfort it brings. The candle lit on this Sunday is sometimes called “the Angels’ Candle” because of how the angels sang of God’s perfect love, as expressed through the coming of Christ. God sent his beloved Son into a dark and disappointing world. Christ died for the sins of ungodly and wicked people. As John 3:16 tells us, these are the ultimate expressions of love. In Psalm 136, we see this Love at work. The constant refrain speaks of God’s steadfast love. Throughout creation, throughout the leading of the people of Israel out of Egypt, throughout the conquering of Canaan, throughout the exciting and terrible times, throughout the relatively peaceful and mundane times, God’s steadfast love remains. It is a constant presence. Christ embodied this steadfast love by coming to earth, becoming flesh and blood, and dying in our place. In this same spirit of Love, the Love candle is lit to remind us of how God’s love is found in Jesus. Suggested Prayer: Lord, we acknowledge our own unworthiness as we receive the loving sacrifice of Christ. We thank you that you would consider us, as guilty men, women and children, people that can still be redeemed. We thank you for the gift of love found in Jesus. Through the kindness that you have shown to every generation, and through the comforting words of your revelation, you continue to put your Love on display. Please help us to trust in your power to wipe away every tear and offer comfort to all the afflicted. We pray this in Jesus’ name, and for your glory. Amen. Ideas for Activities: 1. As a family, make a list of three or four people (or families) who might easily feel lonely at Christmas time. Consider getting a gift for that person or inviting them over for a meal. 2. Consider planning a family trip to a soup kitchen or donating a gift to a charity. ¹ “Love” in The Valley of Vision, ed. Arthur Bennet (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2011), 159.
Week 1: Hope
Nov. 27 – Psalm 90 • November 27, 2016 • Greg Gibson
“Read your Bible – you will find great promises there. Peter describes them as ‘exceeding great and precious promises’ (2 Pet. 1:4), and indeed they are. Go through them, make a list of them, put them down on paper if necessary. And then, armed with these, go to God and plead them.” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones² The first Sunday of Advent is about Hope, and specifically the Hope of Salvation. The candle lit on this Sunday is sometimes called “the Prophecy Candle” because of how the prophets spoke of the coming of the Christ child, the one who would take away the sins of the world. In Psalm 90, Moses called out to God to find favor, as one who knew that his life was short. He knew that the creative power, mercy, wrath, and steadfast love of the Lord was far beyond anything he could imagine. He had seen with his own eyes how God was fully capable to bring salvation to the people of Israel and to bless all nations. Looking forward, Moses could also see a future hope that meant salvation not just from the oppression of governments, but salvation from sin and death. In this same spirit of hope, the Hope Candle is lit to remind us to be alert and to watch for Christ’s return. Suggested Prayer: Lord, as we begin this celebration of the Advent season, we thank you for the careful thought and planning that you put into the salvation of your people. We thank you for the gift of hope found in Jesus. Through the reminders of your promises and the words of the prophets, you gave your people hope that salvation would come. This salvation would be from all the evils of this world, and from the punishment our sins deserve. Please help us to continue to trust in your careful planning as we live our lives. We pray this in Jesus’ name, and for your glory. Amen. Ideas for Activities: 1. As a family, make a list of prayers for the coming year. What are some things you’d like to see happen? What are some concerns? 2. As a family, name three people who need encouragement this week. What is one thing you can do for each of them to encourage them? ² Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Seeking the Face of God: Nine Reflections on the Psalms (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005), 134.